Broadly speaking, you want roughly the same amount of contrast throughout your whole appearance.
Khakis, well, you get the idea — throw on some light tan socks to go with those babies. The idea of black dress socks evolved from an easier but less-attractive rule: That works, in a pinch. It makes the feet look big and draws attention to your ankles any time the trouser cuff rides up.
The most common we mentioned above: But daring dressers can take it a notch further with a contrasting sock, so long as the contrast looks deliberate. But those same gray trousers with a pair of bright red socks that just so happen to have a matching gray diamond pattern argyle or a close cousin, say running through them?
If you go for bright socks, go for ones that are in a comfortably contrasting color, or that have a pattern that references colors elsewhere in your outfit your pocket square, for example , or both. For conventional business dress, socks that match the trousers are still best, followed by socks that match the shoes.
For situations where a little more playfulness is permissible, socks that match the trousers are still fine, but carefully-selected contrasting socks are an acceptable alternative. That comes from the days when exposed skin was considered not just unsightly but downright scandalous.
Tastes have relaxed quite a bit — but not so far that anyone wants to see a scraggly bit of hair-covered ankle sticking out between the top of the sock and the cuff of the trousers. A good sock for business dress and other high-formality purposes should come at least midway up the calf. All the way to the lower edge of the knee is great, if you find that comfortable, but at least halfway up the calf should be your minimum. Much lower than that and certain positions one foot flat while seated with the other slung up and across the knee, for example risk exposing a flash of skin that will clash with your sock and your trousers, looking very unsightly indeed.
Since the cost of manufacturing socks comes mostly from the material, length is where a lot of brands look to save. Save those lengths for your light, summertime socks worn with casual trousers, and hunt around until you find proper over-the-calf socks for dress occasions. Specialized menswear stores and the more upscale department store sections are more likely to fit your needs here than Target, Walmart, and other big-box retailers.
Last but by no means least, the stuff the sock is actually made out of has a huge impact on its performance. Common base materials include cotton, wool, nylon, polyester, and a whole range of other synthetics, some trademarked and others known simply by their chemical names. Wool , unlike cotton, breathes easily and lets wetness evaporate, and it offers much more warmth in cold conditions.
Synthetics have been the answer for most manufacturers. Acrylic, olefin, polyester, and polyethylene can all be shaped into fibers that encourage wicking. On their own, these materials are thin and provide little cushioning or snugness, but they can be blended with thicker and stretchier materials to make an excellent sock. There is no one right answer, and a lot of companies will use their own trademarked blend, the exact properties of which are secret.
But a good dress sock might look something like this:. Click here to check out Blacksocks — a company I personally recommend. The mid-calf style is perfect with sneakers, loafers, dress shoes, boots and everything in between. Plus they can be found in just about any color, pattern, thickness or material you can dream of. But as sock manufacturing improved, this knee-high style fell out of favor and has never recovered.
If you really are concerned about keeping your socks up, OCT socks are an undoubtedly a fool-proof solution. Unfortunately for diehard fans, few retailers still have this style on offer. Those that do charge exorbitant prices and offer a paltry selection. Do not wear over the calf socks with shorts.
That is unless you want the neighbors to call the fashion police. Cotton is the most popular fabric for both formal and athletic socks. Cotton is lightweight, cooler, and more durable than other fibers.
It also holds its shape over time. With its relatively low price, most of your socks are from a cotton blend. Expect this fabric to be a regular in your sock drawer.
Wool has been used in sock manufacturing since the beginning. Wool socks will keep feet warm in cold weather and cool when temperatures soar. These characteristics combine to make them a great fit for outdoor activities such as hiking or skiing. Pure wool socks can be a scratchy and thick, so many are now blended with synthetic fibers like rayon. This blending of yarns makes them softer, while also enhancing strength and durability. The main downside of wool socks is that they cost more than cotton or synthetics.
Silk socks are often reserved for black tie and formal affairs. Synthetic socks are famously lightweight but they tend to be less comfortable and breathable than their natural fiber counterparts. When blended with a natural fiber like cotton or wool, synthetics can add a degree of durability and help prevent shrinkage. This traditional look will keep you under the rader. Ribbed socks are available in almost every neutral color imaginable and the seams add a subtle visual interest. Beware of baring ankle in any formal environment — many conservative types consider no-show socks to be in poor taste, especially with suits.
If you love making those types of people uncomfortable, more power to you. Use solid or color-blocked socks to add a sense of sartorial know-how to your look. Bold toned socks are the easiest way to dip your toe into thoughtful accessorizing. A three of these sock patterns are timeless and make for easy matching. This color continuity ties your outfit together. At the end of the day, if it looks good, it looks good. Avoid matching the pattern of your socks with a pattern that already exists in your look.
Matching pattern on pattern can look a little too deliberate — and not in a good way. These kinds of socks range from boldly tasteful to just plain tasteless, so step with caution.
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